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D. Non-Toxic LEDs of the Future

Narrator: This is Science Today. You may have noticed most indicator lights on computers, stereos and other electronic equipment are either red, green, amber and sometimes even blue. But chemist Michael Sailor of the University of California, San Diego says companies are striving to get a white light-emitting diode, or LED.

Sailor: It's very cool. They don't give off a lot of light, a lot of heat. They are very efficient. And so what they would like to do is take a little LED that's giving off this blue light and make the LED white.

Narrator: Conventional phosphors are toxic. So, Sailor and his colleagues have come up with a class of non-toxic chemicals called photoluminescent silicates, which actually look like sand and give off white light.

Sailor: Most people figured, well, you have to use these really exotic, either expensive or toxic heavy metal ions inside phosphors to get them to emit light. And so here's a material now that has the composition of sea sand. And it's very efficient. It can bring blue light into visible, actually better than a lot of the other materials out there.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.